LA Bakery Tour- Part 1

If you keep up with me on Instagram or Twitter, then you might recall my recent trip to downtown LA on a quest for some amazing bakeries. Whenever I am vacationing, I do my best to seek out local bakeries to try something new. Often times, I return with some new inspiration to take back to my kitchen. Well, in the four years that I have lived in California, I have never explored very much in LA; uh, plus “LA” is an all-encompassing and huge territory to cover. I entrusted in my good friend, Erin, to take me on a bakery adventure to some of her spots.

I made the trek down on Saturday morning, drove through Hollywood, taking in “the sights” (hello, I am totally still a tourist) and met up with Erin. We had an agenda and set out for our sugar high. I am doing this a little in reverse and next week, I will take you from spot to spot on our tour. Today is all about our lunch spot; Joan’s on Third. Erin heard that Joan’s was a great spot for lunch plus they had a bakery. Turns out, I am kind of obsessed with that place.

I had no idea that Joan’s on Third was such an iconic spot to visit. It started as a catering company back in 1995. It wasn’t until 1998 that the opportunity became available for her to expand the business into a gourmet market and café.

Photo courtesy of Joan’s on Third

Fifteen years later, Joan’s on Third is a booming eatery with a full menu of soups, sandwiches and salads, a large case of fresh made deli selections and a bakery packed with muffins, cakes, pies and more. Check out the size of those cream puffs!

Upon walking into the restaurant, it was abundantly clear that this was a happening place. The tables were packed, people lined up for fresh salads at the deli counter and Prosciutto di Parma was carving fresh prosciutto samples and serving cold prosecco tasters. Have you ever had a slice of fresh prosciutto? Oh em gee.

I immediately fell in love with the décor. The bright white interior is offset with a long antique wood table for a family style dining. The bakery is stocked with a variety of cake plates and a glass wall where you can peek in at the action behind the scenes.

I headed to the bakery to seek out the goods. Eat dessert first, right? I gawked at the cupcakes and strawberry shortcake. However, I was looking for some hearty food to offset my sugar consumption. Erin ordered a Chinese Chicken Salad, I chose a pressed chicken sandwich with bacon, brie and caramelized onions on a French baguette. Oh my word, it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. Chicken and bacon sandwiches are a pretty stable part of my diet, but this sandwich was different.  The warm brie cheese on the toasted baguette melted in my mouth with each bite. The caramelized onions added a bit of sweet with each bite. I washed my sandwich down with fresh squeezed lemonade. I was beyond satisfied with lunch.

I had the opportunity to meet Joan herself, and gosh, is she a doll.  Since Joan is from New York, we discussed what all East Coasters discuss; our love for the fall season. Joan also introduced me to her daughter, Susie. Both of them were so sweet and made sure we were enjoying our experience. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Joan what I should be ordering from the bakery now that my lunch was finished. She filled me in on treats they had to offer, but she raved about the specialty ice cream they served.

Joan’s on Third serves Salt and Straw ice cream. Salt and Straw is a Portland, Oregon based company who has won numerous awards for their handmade ice cream. Salt and Straw uses an all natural dairy with local and organic ingredients. Joan’s serves six flavors: Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Custard with Blueberry, Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Chocolate with Gooey Brownies, Coffee and Bourban and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle. I wanted to dive into the case and eat it all. We decided that since it was “Salt and Straw”, we should try the Sea Salt ice cream with the caramel ribbon. It did not disappoint. Each bite was smooth and creamy with a hint of sweet from the caramel. Thanks for the tip, Joan!

No trip to LA is complete without a celebrity sighting right? While Erin and I were stuffing our faces, we suddenly heard a man belting out some tunes about three feet away from us. I instantly turned around to see Richard Simmons interacting with the staff and patrons. I was slightly shell-shocked. Susie explained that Richard often makes visits to Joan’s on Third; he seems to enjoy the opportunity to exercise his vocal cords. While I was chatting with Joan and Susie, Richard stopped to say goodbye and thanks to Joan on his way out. I shyly told Joan I was so embarrassed because I really wanted to take a picture with Richard. “Oh he would LOVE it,” Joan exclaimed. She immediately took off to flag him down while Susie watched over our seats and our lunch. Thanks so much ladies, my first celebrity photo in the bag!

My experience at Joan’s on Third was nothing short of amazing. From the atmosphere to the food to the company, it felt like a once in a lifetime experience. I enjoyed every minute and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with Joan and Susie. I only wished I lived closer so I could eat that sandwich on the regular.  I wanted to take the whole bakery case home with me, but I still had many visits ahead of me. Thanks to Joan, Susie and the rest of their staff for showing us such a good time. Stay tuned next week to hear about the rest of my trip.

Photo courtesy of Joan’s on Third

Summer Vacation- Bass Lake

As summer is winding down, I feel very fortunate to have had some amazing trips this summer. Between BlogHer Food in Austin, a wedding that I catered desserts for in Mammoth, my cousin’s wedding in Minneapolis and our trip to Bass Lake, I feel like I hit almost every corner of the US. Sadly, I did not make it home to Vermont this summer, but anyone who wants to send me some MAC apples, please do so! I am reliving a little but of my summer vacation today.

He is so good to put up with my with the endless photo taking!

My boyfriend’s family has been coming to Bass Lake for a number of years. I have been fortunate to join them the past two summers and I am already looking forward to next summer! Here is the view from the dock in the early morning and evening. We had a few days of hazy smoke that was blowing over from the wildfire near Mammoth Lakes.

It’s not often I get to take a week off from work, and truth be told, my vacation days are usually saved for winter! I can’t help but love spending time at the lake. What’s not to love? We take the boat to lunch or dinner (and sometimes out for dessert!), wake board all day, and I do what I do best, lay in the sun! Selfie coming up- Continue reading

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer System Review

I have always been curious about vacuum sealer systems for quite some time. I myself am a “food saver”; I freeze what I can and I hate throwing food away. Believe me, I defineitely got that from my mom.  My boyfriend on the other hand is more of a fresh food person. So I try to find a happy medium where I can take advantage of food that is on sale or buying in bulk. Since we are a two person household, we are limited on what foods we can bring home from bulk stores before they expire.

When FoodSaver approached me to review their product, the Vacuum Sealer V4800 series, I was so excited to try it out. FoodSaver says you can keep foods fresh up to 5x longer than with bags and containers and it is the market leader in vacuum sealer home appliances. As I have been baking more and more for my blog, I would really like to find a way to store my ingredients and desserts, and ultimately, reduce wasted food. A lot of times, I try to save my left over cake or cupcakes (pre-frosted) and freeze it for cake pops or some other type of dessert. After less than a month in the freezer, the cake crumbs are totally freezer burned and unattractive, so I end up throwing it away. So I am excited to see how this turns out.

FoodSaver product review

In full disclosure, I am the type of person who opens up a new appliance, forgets the instructions and goes to work. Well that is really impossible to do with the FoodSaver, as it is a very versatile appliance and a little more complex. I took the time to read the materials properly. Did you know there are certain foods that cannot be vacuum packed such as soft cheese, broccoli, mushrooms and garlic? I was slightly overwhelmed at first,  and it took a little trial and error or me to figure out the best way to use it. There are plenty of options as to what type of bags you can use based on the foods you want to store.

FoodSaver did provide a very detailed guide as to the proper ways to vacuum seal different foods. For instance, if you freeze your fruit and veggies before you vacuum seal them, it will prevent them from crushing. Now, the machine was a little louder than I expected. In all fairness, I did not know what to expect with this type of machine. It first has to suck the air from the bag and then heat seal it. There is one attachment that is used to suck the air out of the  zipper bags, which is super easy to use and I think ultimately, what I appreciated the most for quick use. This attachment is meant to be used with the zipper bags or canisters. I am really interested to try a FoodSaver canister, which is better for backed goods to prevent them from crushing. I did slightly crush my Oreos.

FoodSaver product review

Food Saver sent me a wide variety of bags, so I tried to take the time to see what ones were used best and where. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the perforated single serving bags. They are perfect for smoothie making. I took two bananas, cut them into pieces and froze for two hours. I filled each bag with one banana each, vacuum and heat sealed both bags at the same time. Now, I can pull them out one at a time for my smoothies. In the past when I tired to freeze bananas for smoothies, they totally froze together and turned brown. I wish I had this earlier in the summer, I would have totally froze more fresh fruits.

FoodSaver product review

The best part about most of the Food Saver bags is that they can all but cut to dimensions needed, even the single serving bags!  They come in rolls, which fit conveniently inside the machine. There is a cutting mechanism so you can cut the different types of bags to your desired size.

FoodSaver product review

There are several types of bags I received.

  • Portion Pouch roll- which you can make as long as you want
  • 11” Expandable pleated heat-seal roll, which I can cut to fit and fit extra large items
  • 11” Heat sealed roll bags, which fit most foods and can be cut to fit any size
  • Liquid block heat sealed bags for juicy or marinated items
  • Quart size, pre-cut heat sealed bags- in case you don’t want to use them yourself
  • Quart sized Vacuum Zipper Bags- which are reusable, depending on the food that is contained inside the bag
  •  Gallon sized Vacuum Zipper bags- which are reusable, depending on the food that is contained inside the bag

FoodSaver product review

So I vacuum sealed and froze a few different types of items so I can pull them back out of the freezer in a few weeks and see the results! Stayed tuned for the next review. FoodSaver is looking for fans that want to share the love of saving food and money! Visit their Facebook page to find out more about the Sunday Saver program and how you participate and start saving money!  You can also visit their website for more information about FoodSaver products.

FoodSaver product review

Disclaimer: FoodSaver sent me this product for review but all opinions are my own. 

Favorite Things Birthday Giveaway

Hey everyone! I am so excited to be bringing you an awesome GIVEAWAY today (and my first giveaway on Beyond Frosting!). My friend Ashton over at Something Swanky asked a few bloggers to join her in a giveaway for her birthday. Happy Birthday Ashton! Check out the cool prize details below including a KitchenAid Mixer and Target gift card. I know my KitchenAid mixer is one of my favorite things! Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

I “met” most of these bloggers through Online BlogCon which is an amazing network of bloggers from different avenues of the web. Online BlogCon is an online conference that you attend while sitting in your PJs from the comfort of your couch.  Well that’s how I imagine it anyway. Even if you can’t be present during the conference, you can view all the sessions at on your own time. This year will be my first year attending Online BlogCon, but I have already learned so much just from joining the group. Plus it’s super affordable. Check out the link below. Early bird pricing ends August 2nd.


And now for the giveaway!

Want to win some of my favorite things?! Here’s what’s up for grabs:

How can you enter to win all of these goodies (an $800 value!)? Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below by signing in with your Facebook or E-mail account (you’re required to use one of those so we can contact you if you win!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 4th Recipe Roundup

Can you believe it’s July already? Where did June go? Between BlogHer Food, my friend’s wedding and my cousin’s wedding this past weekend, I guess June flew by!

I can’t wait for Wednesday. It’s kind of like the day before spring break at school. I can’t get anything done because I am too excited to have a few days off work. Do you have any fun plans for July 4th? We are staying local and hanging by the pool. I just thought I would give you a few last minute recipe ideas for your BBQs this weekend.

One more thing… don’t forget to follow me over at Bloglovin since Google Reader is no longer available. I never used Goggle Reader, but there is a great article from Not Your Momma’s Cookie about how to make the switch. I happen to love Bloglovin and it so easy!

Piña Colada Cupcake

Blueberry Pie Parfaits

Caramel Apple Pie Cake

Strawberry Pound Cake Cupcakes

Mini Gluten-Free Apple Pies

Gluten- Free Raspberry Crisp 

Chunky Monkey Magic Bars

Cookie Dough Muddy Buddies

Lemon Raspberry Magic Bars

Here are some fun ideas from around the web:

Funnel Cake Cake by The Domestic Rebel

Patriotic Cake Roll by Crazy for Crust

Patriotic Tye Dye Cake or Cupcake by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Sparkly Cupcakes by In Katrina’s Kitchen

Firecracker Bundt Cake  by What2Cook

Head over to Something Swanky for 60+ Patriotic Dessert Ideas